How can you maximize your stakeholders’ return on investment? Treat your stakeholders like your customers. What is really important to them? For example, is it just a return on investment or some sense of control? If they are sitting you in board room, your living room, or your office, then there is a strong possibility they are not just interested in the dollar amount annually reported on an IRS Form K-1! If they attend meetings, even just to earn a stipend, they want information.
Many online shoppers now use social media to make informed decisions about their purchases. Are your stakeholders any less discerning? Perhaps management should consider going beyond an annual report to decision-makers and integrate them into your operational rather than just strategic processes. Are “active” stakeholders in your product or services aware of what your customers “really” say about your products or do they receive summarized, massaged statistics that have a 4-figure precision? Have you noticed that with the emergence of a Global Village, there are now many self-appointed “town criers”? Social media forums and blogs provide the digital equivalent of a local village square. As a manager, do you have the resources to provide your stakeholders, assuming they are interested, with raw and timely “online buzz”? Can they “(with)stand the truth”?
A meaningful picture of key performance indicators (KPI) is not complete unless they are somehow linked to critical success factors (CSF); the two are very different but ultimately affect the same bottom line – stakeholder ROI! Defining a critical factor that will make a product successful doesn’t necessarily have to come from the boardroom or the Research and Development department. In today’s Global Village, a critical success factor more than likely comes from an unsolicited comment made in some public forum! Social media not only keeps Jane and John Customer informed but actually helps “must-have” features crystallize in their minds before they make their purchase. Failure to integrate “must-have” features into a product design is an obvious mistake that is relatively easy for a product manager to avoid. It takes however, an interaction between the identification of what is exciting and innovative today with tomorrow’s performance indicators to eventually achieve a product’s critical success.
Stakeholders have cultivated a very specific point of view – otherwise, by definition, they wouldn’t have the wealth, education, or power to be a stakeholder. Product managers similarly have a viewpoint, although it, again by definition, is very different from that of stakeholders. A synergy can arise however, if a third perspective, an aggregate measure of customer satisfaction, is added to the “product mix”. Customers want satisfaction; stakeholders want success; the two are fundamentally the same. The successful product manager can extract many actionable insights that ultimately translate into significant returns on investment from what customers’ and stakeholders’ want; they just need to know where to look for their solutions